duminică, 2 iulie 2017

Kramer vs. Kramer, written and directed by Robert Benton, based on the novel by Avery Corman, 9 out of 10

Kramer vs. Kramer, written and directed by Robert Benton, based on the novel by Avery Corman
9 out of 10

A different version of this note and thoughts on other books are available at:

Kramer vs. Kramer is one of the best dramas that you can see.
It is on the New York Times’ Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made list:

The film won all the important Academy Awards:

-          For Best Picture, Best Actress in a Supporting Role- Meryl Streep, Best Director and Best Writing – both for Robert Benton and Best Actor in a Leading Role – Dustin Hoffman
-          Golden Globes were awarded for all of the above categories, except for directing

It is without a doubt, unless one is orange and lives in the White House, that Meryl Streep is one of the best, probably the very best actress in the world today.
Dustin Hoffman used to be one of the best, even if about the man I have read some disparaging comments.

And I do not mean gossip, but material from one of the classic books on cinema, wrote by an ultimate insider:

-          Adventures in the Screen Trade by the winner of two Academy Awards for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and All The President’s Men- William Goldman

The brilliant author explains how Hollywood works, about the so called “author films”, the making of various films, including the above mentioned classics and how he worked with various stars, including Dustin Hoffman.

On the set of Marathon Man, the star had two moments that changed my opinion of him and left me biased.
One refers to the scene wherein he is supposed to take a flashlight from a drawer near his bed and he would not do that, because he would not have his fans look at this and feel he is not the macho, manly type.

The other involved working with Sir Laurence Olivier, a God of acting and a modest, hardworking, polite and likeable man on the set, we are told by William Goldman, in spite of the illness that ailed the superman.
Notwithstanding the evident effort and pain, Laurence Olivier had to keep walking around and around with Dustin Hoffman, just because the latter wanted this, perhaps as a means to impose his position as the more important actor in that film, the one cast in the leading role and overcome a possible anxiety, maybe even an inferiority complex towards the giant legendary actor.

In Kramer vs. Kramer nevertheless, Hoffman does a great job as Ted Kramer, the father of Billy who has to cope with a drama.
Joanna, the phenomenal, young Meryl Streep, has left Ted Kramer, faced as we would learn with a crisis.

The single parent has to face the daunting task of housekeeping, cooking, raising his son and do his job all the same time.
We could take this as a lesson and an invention on the role of women, who juggle with all these at the same time, whereas a man, in the same position, appears unable, unfit to take care of the same tasks.

One could also think of the psychology classic on marriage- The Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work – by the ultimate expert John Gottman, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse- Contempt, Stonewalling, Criticism and Defensiveness and see how they apply in this and other cases…
Joanna reappears and wants to have Billy, for whom a fight in court ensues, with lawyers involved and testimonies.

It is all very emotional, with accusations and hard questions; the mother is obviously accused of having left her child.

Billy has suffered a minor injury, but in court this is exaggerated and the opposite side is questioning the father’s ability to take care of Billy.
Ted Kramer had to find a job in difficult circumstances, settling for something well under his level, for otherwise he would not have a chance at custody.

Witnesses have different versions of what happened and how they see the marital conflict; with one saying that it took a lot of courage for Joanna to go away when she did…Ted replying back that it must take courage to abandon one’s kid.

It is a drama that so many families are familiar with, given that divorce rates, in America and elsewhere, are so high. 

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